How The CFP Could Deny TWO Power 5 Conferences a Spot

Posted by Daniel Strum on November 13, 2015 in

If you do the online college football betting math, every year the College Football Playoffs is going to make one of the Power 5 conferences angry. The Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, the SEC and the ACC all have the first shot at spots in the playoff. However, there are only four slots in that playoff. That means that one conference is going to be left out.

How The CFP Could Deny TWO Power 5 Conferences a Spot

But what if two of them got left out? The SEC had a major problem on its hands going into this past weekend. If Ole Miss had won the rest of its games, they would have won the SEC West despite having two losses. The low ranking that Florida has this season means that the SEC champion would have had a really tough time getting into the playoff, given the stellar records that several Big 12 teams have and the strong resumes of teams from other conferences. Plus there was Memphis, a school from the American Athletic Conference (and one of 4 American teams in the top 25), undefeated and with a win over Ole Miss on its resume. There was talk that Memphis could vault up the polls and end up in one of those playoff spots if they kept winning, which would have meant wins over multiple ranked teams.

Of course, that bubble burst, at least in part, when Ole Miss fell to Arkansas after a bizarre series of laterals in overtime on a 4th-and-25 play gave the Razorbacks a first down. With new life, the Razorbacks surged past Ole Miss and then went for two to take the win. Memphis found that the Midshipmen of Navy were more than ready to deliver an upset, falling at home to Navy to fall out of the playoff conversation.

What to do with the Fighting Irish

But then came Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish lost their starting quarterback in Week 2 and have also lost their starting tailback. Even so, they have come on to go 8-1 this season, falling only to #1 Clemson on the road in a four-point game. They faced a tough Temple team on the road and came out winners. The Fighting Irish play Stanford in the last week of the season. The College Football Playoff committee just put Notre Dame #4 in its weekly rankings, ahead of unbeaten Iowa (#5), Baylor (#6) and Oklahoma State (#8). The Irish have an extremely difficult schedule this year, while Baylor played a cupcake schedule and hasn’t played anyone difficult yet in Big 12 play.

So the rankings this week feature Clemson (ACC), Alabama (SEC), Ohio State (Big Ten) and Notre Dame (independent). Ohio State still faces Michigan and Michigan State, and potentially Iowa in a Big Ten championship game. Alabama has to finish its SEC slate, including a presumptive SEC championship game against Florida. Notre Dame still has to beat Stanford to make the playoff, and Clemson’s toughest test is a likely ACC championship game against North Carolina.

So there are still some ways that the rankings could change. But if the Irish keep winning, if Alabama wins the SEC, if Clemson wins the ACC and Ohio State finishes out with wins, you could easily see a playoff that only has three of the Power 5 conferences represented.